My Skin Journey Part 1: Healing Cystic Acne

I can’t help but feel so vulnerable as I write these words.

For me, my all time biggest insecurity is my acne. Sharing this post (and the before photo down below… eek!!) with you conjures up the image of someone throwing a massive stone into a murky lake, stirring up and bringing to light all the things that were once hiding deep below the surface.

I had clear skin until the moment I got to college. Overnight it seems, my skin broke out and continued to get worse and worse with each year. I tried everything. And if you struggle with skin issues, you know the feeling. (And maybe you don’t struggle with your complexion, but maybe you can relate when it comes to weight or a mental health issue or an insecurity that plagues your thoughts at all times…)

I got facial after facial. Painful extractions. I tried LED light therapy. Bought more products than I could ever use, looking for that cure-all fix. Saw multiple dermatologists. Took pills and supplements that made me so sick I would throw up. Used prescription creams and layers of makeup so thick in efforts to hide the redness and pealing and scarring and to keep other people from seeing what I was so constantly reminded of. I would scream and cry myself to sleep every single night. Partly out of hopelessness but mostly because of how physically painful it was. My skin would burn and itch with a relentlessness I would never wish on anyone. When I would wake up and look at myself in the mirror while getting ready the next day, the tears would begin again. My skin was flaky and raw and would sting with the lightest touch. I’ve always been really passionate about holistic health and was a firm believer that our internal health was often reflected externally. And although that holds much truth, I used it as ammunition to hate myself. I would think things like:

Wow, I must be this ugly on the inside. Everyone can see how unhealthy I am. No one will take me seriously as a trainer or health professional. I have always been and will always be this ugly/unhealthy/un-cool/un-pretty… 

Even typing those words brings me to tears. Although my skin is finally beginning to clear (I still get a good chunk of hormonal breakouts around my cycle and have lots and lots of redness), I’m not far enough removed to forget how heartbreaking this tumultuous journey has been.

So how did I work my way through it? In the next couple of weeks I will share the tips, products, and thought patterns that helped me learn to love myself again and identify the root causes of my acne. The truth is, like any health issue, there are so many steps and layers to healing. I took a blood allergy test and discovered I was allergic to gluten and dairy and eggs (among other things; wow right?!) and had to learn how to completely transform my relationship with food. That’s one layer. I started seeing an esthetician while living in Austin who shed light on the acne causing ingredients in my makeup and toiletries (shampoo, body wash, etc.), along with laundry detergents and protein powders and foods I sincerely thought were good for me (she has also been an incredible source of encouragement along the way! Thank you, Alyssa!!). There’s another layer. And then I had to do some major healing in the ways I thought about myself. The final, most vulnerable and challenging piece of the puzzle.

But until then, I hope this post makes you feel less alone in your struggles. I know the spectrum of our pain is vast and ranges from one of us to the other so I will in no way pretend to fully understand the things you face and feel… but even if our trials are not one in the same, I hope I can encourage, honor, and lift you up by speaking so plainly. I started this blog out of a desire to write the words I want most to hear. And through it all, to find healing and growth in a place I had once given up on.

Please hear me when I say you are beautiful! And you are not alone!!

So so kindly,


Here’s that before photo! AH!

acne before

Posting this photo is so incredibly hard!! I still feel so shy and anxious when I go out publicly — a feeling I felt often when my skin was at it’s worst. This pic is from October 2016 and I can’t believe how much it has cleared, little by little…

Read Part 2 here!! I’m talking about all things mindset & self-love 🙂

  • Reply
    September 27, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    I’m so proud of you to share this story. I shared it with Katrina – we were both blown away!!

    • Reply
      September 27, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Hi Casey! That means the world to me to hear. I am so grateful!! Lots of love. 🙂

  • Reply
    October 16, 2017 at 3:50 am

    This is the single bravest post I’ve read this year. I think the real courage is to tell others the weakest side of yourself, and you achieved brilliantly. Just want to let you know that you are, now, so much more beautiful than you in your famous Hey soul sister clip.

    • Reply
      November 20, 2017 at 10:20 pm

      wow wow wow I cannot thank you enough for your comment. Thank you for reading. Thank you for following my music as well. I am so so grateful for you.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Wow! Thanks for being so vulnerable + I look forward to following your tips and story. I’ve been struggling with breakouts and always so fearful to look in the mirror in the morning scared to see what “appeared” over night and not wanting to look people in the eye/avoid them looking at my skin directly. Definitely a work in progress in loving yourself but I’m so happy you’ve found a system that works for you.

    • Reply
      November 20, 2017 at 10:23 pm

      Ah, I know that feeling all too well. Sometimes, it’s so heart breaking and scary to look myself in the eye as I’m getting ready in the mornings. I’m sorry that you go through it too. You are not alone in the things you face and feel. I’m grateful we get to journey in this together!! Thanks for reading, Nikki!! And thank you for your friendship 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelsey Graham
    August 10, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Oh, girl. So proud of you! This is amazing! You are doing great things!

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